It's a livin' Joel, it ain't so bad being skilled labor i say that because i've been unskilled labor
The 'good-bad-ugly' is there, mostly when it's cold out you'll be out, if it's dirty, you'll be rollin' in it, and if there are nasty customers you'll be on the recieving end....
Apprenticeship lasts 4 yrs, so figure 4 yrs of night school, this & 8000 hrs makes you eligable for your journeyman's in many states ( too bad it isn't a gold standard )
another 4000 hrs, and your eligable for a masters.
there was a thread a while back on $$$$, but i can't find it, beats a lot of things though.
it would be best if you could find a larger co. that would pitch for schooling...